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basten-house

Did you know about this adorable, family friendly Teddy Bear museum in Marbletown? During a fall open house, my family and I visited the Den which is set back from the road on 209. The Den of Marbletown is simply adorable and perfect for any teddy bear fanatic! There are a ton of different bears displayed and opportunities to learn the history of the teddy bear, the Steiff Company and the museum location.

The Basten family farm house was converted to a bed and breakfast and has expanded to include a teddy bear collection museum. The original collection belongs to the owner’s mother and many of the temporary exhibits include her personal favorites.

The Steiff Company has been around since 1880 and has been delighting children and adults of all ages and stages with stuffed animals. From plush baby safe cuddle blankets to luxurious fiber collectible bears for adults.

When we arrived my girls could hardly contain their excitement. They were surrounded by thousands of stuffed loves all in need of a good hug (according to the six year olds, not the store staff). After touring the gift shop we took the self-guided tour to learn more about the history of the museum and the teddy bear. We wound our way through each room filled with displays of adorably staged stuffed animals.  And just when we thought we were at the end we found the upstairs portion of this old Farm House was also converted to hold exhibits. Each room in The Den has a theme and is filled with adorable dioramas of teddy bear hijinks.

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There is an overload of teddy bears and stuffed animals throughout the museum, but in a small converted closet in one upstairs room there are plenty of old school Barbie Dolls and Madame Alexander Dolls. Across the hall from that exhibit, there is a special room called the, “Mama Bear Lounge.” This room was designed with working moms in mind. Moms are encourage to grab a coffee and their lap top and let the little ones play. Or, meet up with other moms for play dates. There is a toy box filled with blocks and other toys and a soft carpeted area for kids to play. There is free Wi-Fi where moms can get a little work done, or take a break and scroll through Facebook. The small room behind the mama bear lounge is the “kids cub cave.” It’s a small room where the kids can climb in and out of a faux cave, or grab a game or coloring page from the shelves to play at the table.

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One unique feature we did not experience is renting a guest room to spend a night at the museum. This would be an incredible birthday experience for any kid age 6 or older to sleep that close to so many squeezable bears. There is also a café and snack area inside, as well as picnic area just outside. The website boasts a picnics to go service, local fresh baked goods and a marvelous closet filled with extra amenities.

You can tell the folks in charge really put a lot of thought into the details. This museum is perfect for your teddy bear enthusiast age six and older. There are many exhibits behind glass, or under display boxes, but still many places they can hold a stuffed animal.  More active kids will love the mama bear lounge area.

Keep an eye on the Den News section on the website to check out some of the fun events planned at the house. Some previous events include a teddy bear tea, cookie decorating, jewelry making and art workshops.  The admission price to the museum is really affordable at $2.00 per adult, and $1.00 for kids to age 17 (under 1 are free) and a family rate of just $5.00. Pack a lunch and make this an affordable fun day out learning a little history and enjoying the bears!

Photo credit: The Den of Marbletown website.

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

One of the things I love about yoga is that it reminds us of when we were children and turned upside down, rolled around, balanced on our hands and twisted ourselves into strange shapes just for fun. When I teach yoga to kids, they take right to it because they intuitively understand the playful aspect of the poses.

This week starts a series of vlogs highlighting various yoga postures you can share with your children, and you’ll all benefit. To kick it off, let’s try Crow Pose. This arm balance is always a hit with the kids and offers many benefits:

  • develops the ability to focus
  • increases upper body strength
  • improves balance
  • cultivates coordination
  • builds confidence

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A few months ago we decided not to throw our kids a birthday party. I know, how horrible. Instead we took a week-long vacation in the Berkshires. I get that sounds all pretentious but I swear we are average folks. I smuggle my peanut butter jelly sandwiches into places just like every other mom. But we decided for the cost of a two hour party we could give our kids some really fun experiences they will always remember.

We visited a lot of great places and enjoyed trips to several museums where we found science, art and history exhibits. We even saw a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle exhibit which made me and hubby feel a little old. Not only do we remember the first time we watched the original movie (which was playing on a continuous loop), but we remember playing a Nintendo game unit like the one now old enough to be on display as a “classic.”

I digress.

One of our favorite stops was the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. My kids loved making art in the art studio, reading and relaxing in the library and seeing art work from their favorite authors on display.

Here is what we enjoyed!

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The art studio is a large sunlit room bursting with creativity. The resident artists select a craft project each day to share with visitors to the studio. All the materials and instruction are free. There are convenient drying wracks just outside the studio entrance where you can leave your creations while you tour the rest of the building. If you have kids of different ages and stages there are fun hands on play stations for your little ones to enjoy.

The galleries offer a look at original art work created by Eric Carle and other renowned picture book artists. Our favorite by far was the Brown Bear 50th Anniversary exhibit. We could see different versions of the way the animals were drawn. We immediately found the reading area which provided books and comfy brown bear cushions to cozy up to while reading. There are a variety of ways kids can interact with the art and games to help them talk about what they see. Each of the gallery rooms is minimal with plenty of room to navigate a stroller or wheel chair through. But no pictures are allowed for this exhibit.

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The library was the big hit for my kids. Not only did they have access to kids’ books, but they were obsessed with the giant stuffed versions of the book characters they love. Brown Bear was carried around by just about every kid that came in. There are also lots of learning toys like latch puzzles, magnet puzzles and coloring pages. Hubby and I enjoyed getting to sit down and relax a bit while our kids had a safe place to roam. There are kids story times and other events taking place so be sure to check the schedule before you travel!

The Auditorium offers concerts and educational films. We arrived between movie viewings so we did not get to check out the auditorium. But you can check online to see what film or concert is being offered on the day you visit.

The Bookshop is filled with a lot of fun games, stuffed animals and unique gift ideas. We found some great post cards featuring art from our favorite Eric Carle books. I bought extras to frame when we return home.

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Everything about this museum is designed with families in mind. You can request extra diapering supplies from the front desk, borrow a stroller or wheel chair and the coat room has individual lockers with a key to stash your diaper bag and extra stuff you don’t want to carry. There are activity kits to borrow to help your kids have a more interactive experience (I didn’t see those until we were on our way out). The museum admission price is also family friendly $22.50 covers a family of two adults and two kids.

Since our visit was in November it was a little too chilly to check out the art sprinkled along the walking trails and museum grounds. You can also find picnic tables outside to enjoy that homemade peanut butter sandwich right out in the open.  Or you can stay inside and enjoy a non-smuggled lunch right in The Carle Café where they offer free coffee and organic/natural vending machine fare.

The museum is located in Amherst, MA which is approximately 2 hours from where we are in Ulster County. This is a great place to take your young art lover and little reader. It is a perfect day trip for families and especially accommodating for every age group. Older kids can read and learn details about the art exhibits, create art and there is plenty to keep their younger siblings busy and engaged.

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

When I was a kid New Year’s Eve was so exciting! My parents would let us stay up until Midnight to take us out to breakfast. We called it “First Breakfast” because it was literally the first breakfast of the New Year. One year we went to the diner with my parents and their friends, another year the local firehouse hosted a first breakfast event. I was just four years old when my parents started this tradition, but I still remember it today!

I knew I would make this a tradition for my little family one day. The only problem is, at age 6 my kids still “can’t hang.” If they do not go to bed at the same hour every night we have horrible, monstrous humans we can’t face the public with. So our solution is to celebrate a big first breakfast at our kitchen table every year. We make it special with colorful decorations and drink out of fancy glasses. It has become such a big hit at our house that I now keep a kit ready. I pull it out on New Year’s Eve after they fall asleep and set it up before I go to bed (hours before midnight).

The traditional colors for New Year celebrations are silver and gold, or black and white. However, we prefer the colors of Mardi Gras- green, gold and purple. These are all colors of royalty and represent prosperity and good fortune; all great things to hope for in the New Year and they make a pretty colorful back drop to our first breakfast.

Here is what I have in my first breakfast celebration kit:

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Champagne Flutes– We don’t actually serve champagne (to the children) for breakfast, but we do like feeling fancy. So we serve up their morning OJ (and our mimosas) in these colorful, reusable flutes. The kids really get a kick out of it!

Hats, Noise Makers and Beaded Necklaces – every year I set the table with these fun accessories for each person in the family. As soon as the kids come out in the morning we put on our fashions and march in a noisy parade through the house. Since mommy and daddy can no longer hang till midnight either, this noise isn’t so horrible after a full night’s sleep.

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Holiday Crackers- these are just fun! You pop them open and there is usually a paper crown inside along with some jokes and a little trinket. It keeps the kids busy while I am cooking up breakfast. They take turns cracking each other up and I get to enjoy hearing them laugh instead of argue for a minute. P.s. Holiday crackers usually go on sale for half price after the holiday season.

Tableware- I use disposable decorative paper plates with matching napkins. After cooking a big breakfast of omelets, bacon and fresh cinnamon buns, and drinking a few mimosas, I could use the break from washing dishes. P.p.s I hit up the dollar stores after the holiday and pick up festive prints for 50 cents each. I stock up to keep on hand for the next few years.

Masks- one of my kids wanted to start wearing masks for our parade one year and so the tradition has stuck around. We don’t wear them while eating breakfast because that would just be weird. Unless you are six then it’s just breakfast time. (I don’t even ask anymore).

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Clock– another kid created tradition. It makes a great centerpiece for our table.

Not included in the kit are colorful foiled chocolate coins I toss around the table to represent money and sweetness. I buy these every year because obviously chocolate is not going to survive more than a day in my house. And it could get pretty gross in storage for a year. I keep all our decorations in a reusable clear tote and put away until our next first breakfast.

Our version of First Breakfast may not have the same kind of thrill as when I was as a kid, but it is our own. Right now while the kids are still little and so dependent on routine, we are happy keeping the first breakfast tradition alive eight hours after the official start to the new year. It feels more manageable and sane for us. Maybe one day my children won’t turn into gremlins and we can move this tradition to a new location. Or, maybe we’ll return to this cozy tradition year after year. Either way I just hope they remember these first breakfasts as fondly as I remember mine.

What New Year traditions do you and your family celebrate?

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

 

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Last week I shared my thoughts for putting less crap under the tree this year. I want to be able to manage the things we bring into our home, and still allow my kids the excitement of Christmas. First, I am taking a look at what my kids already own and how they like to spend their play time. We already have a bunch of play sets with tiny accessories that end up lost, or broken. I don’t want to add to them. With winter coming there will be more time spent inside, which means plenty of time to play with the mountain of stuff they already have. This year I am looking to give my kids thoughtful, personalized gifts that do not require me picking them up off the floor!

HERE IS WHAT MY KIDS ARE GETTING THIS YEAR

PERSONALIZED APRON

I am having a personalized apron made from one of my old dresses from childhood. I just love the print and I vowed to one day make it into something. That was 20-years ago. I discovered hand-made children’s aprons at Boudoir Baby in Saugerties. It seemed like the perfect way to re-purpose this dress, and I can have the aprons personalized with my kids’ names! The aprons will fold neatly and fit in the same drawer I keep my own apron.

KID SIZED COOKING UTENSILS

To go along with their special aprons we are giving them kid friendly utensils of their own. The set I found on curiouschef.com includes a kid safe knife. This makes me feel a little safer while teaching them cooking skills. I can easily store these items alongside our own utensils. No extra storage needed!

DIY KITS

We make a lot of fun crafts and cookies at home. So packing up the ingredients for a fun make your own sundae box, or ingredients for sugar cookies are a guaranteed hit! We use up all the ingredients and eat the cookies. There’s nothing left to store or maintain! Packing DIY craft kits or art kit means we use everything for one project and we are done. No left over materials to find a home for!

A YEAR OF DATES

I found this idea last year and I can’t wait to give it a try this year. I mentioned last week it is always a struggle to get enough one on one time with each kid. But stacking up date day coupons, gift certificates, or prepaid tickets to an event to use on those date days will really help us remember to schedule them in.  I found this post to be helpful in making this into a gift. TIP: be sure to check with your credit card companies, or bank for reward points. You can often trade in those points for gift certificates to restaurants or retail stores. You can get free gift certificates to pay for your adventures! We will have to leave the house for these adventures so there’s nothing left to clean up!

A DRESS UP STATION

We already have a bunch of dress up clothes in a bin. Everything gets mangled and pawed through. I plan on taking the time to sort through the old stuff and introducing a few new pieces (even if they are second hand) to bring new life to this area of the play room. A short book case with a tension rod quickly creates a whole new space for my kids most cherished play things. I am not even going to wrap this up. Just leave it off to the side and hang up new to them dress up sets. Since this replaces the messy bin, it doesn’t take up any extra space.

PERSONALIZED CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS

Every year we buy a special ornament for each kid. This year I want something more personal and not the same expensive, plastic ornament every other kid has on their tree. I am in love with the classic look of silhouettes, but I can never get my girls to sit still long enough to make one myself. So, I asked Alexa of Personalized by Lexi Quinn to create a one of a kind ornament that captures my kids’ silhouettes and personalized with their name and date. These will be packed away year after year which means no stuff lingering in the toy room.

PERSONALIZED LAP DESK

These are perfect for my kids who like to read and create where ever they go. They can use them while sitting on the couch watching TV, or while sitting on the floor coloring. I asked local mom Jen Ward, from Just Round the Block, who creates personalized gifts to make these. No wrapping here either- just nice, pretty bows placed on top and leave them off to the side. My girls can fill the pockets with their favorite things they already have. This will help me round up the extra art supplies typically found around the house.

BEANIE BOO SLIPPERS

I am putting a ban on stuffed loves. If I even see another stuffed animal I might scream! Our entire home is overrun with fluffy lions and tigers and bears! Oh my! Buuuut… my kids can never pass up a Beanie Boo. In fact, their love runs so deep they make me take their pictures with all their favorites while we are out shopping. Since they are due for new slippers anyway, and I can donate the excellent condition pairs they’ve out grown, I’ll allow this mash up of Beanie Boos and useful slippers.

STOCKING STUFFERS

Enchanted Lip Balm by Three Sisters Herbal will be one of our new favorites! I love using this for myself! There are other really great products Three Sisters offers that my kids are able to enjoy since they are all natural and organic. It is a very reputable, local company which is always a win.

Krause’s Candy is another one of our favorites. Every year we get a packaged bag of Christmas foil wrapped chocolates and divvy between the stockings. My kids look forward to these every year.

Other things I put in their stockings include things they already need: tooth brushes, socks, extra gloves, a new watch, their favorite shampoo and conditioner, pocket packs of tissues, etc.  These items will replenish our supply and be used up. Ergo zero long term storage necessary!

There are 8 specially thought out gift ideas! No extra stuff to clutter up the house. No batteries required. I’m sure we will fill in the rest of the gift list with clothes they need and one special gift only Santa can bring- which we are still thinking about.  More than I want less crap at Christmas, I want my kids to understand that the real gift is in the giving. The thought we put into gifts can be greater than the actual gift.

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

5-tips-for-more-thoughtful-christmas-gifts

How crazy is it that we had snow four days before Halloween? Then, the very next day it’s a typical fall day? I expected a nice dusting of snow that we could simply leave a few foot prints in on our way to school, and then it would all melt away. But noooo. I had to break out the shovels!  While my kids were helping me clear the driveway they began singing Christmas carols and asking me when Santa is coming. They forgot entirely that we didn’t even get through trick or treat yet!

But all that caroling had me thinking about Christmas and our Christmas list. In the past I have shared my $150 Christmas spending plan with tips on how to spend less to get more. This year I am going for no plastic toys and all the crap that comes along with it. We have so much stuff in our house it is almost impossible to keep up with. No more toys with tiny parts. No more Lego sets that are eventually dumped all over the floor. No more extra pieces. This is the year we say no more crappy toys for Christmas!

It isn’t just the overkill of toys that I am looking to change; I’m looking to add more thoughtfulness to our holiday.  When I was growing up there wasn’t enough money to go around, so we put a lot of thought into what we did buy and dressed it up really pretty. Or we made it a funny experience by wrapping small gifts inside of a box, wrapped inside of a box, wrapped inside of another box. Sometimes we’d have to hunt for a gift somewhere on the tree.  And sometimes we even made gifts for each other.

Today it is just too easy to lavish our families with flashy electronics, or a brand new ride on toy, or toys with lots of lights and sounds. But what happens to those toys in the long run? You can hand them off to another child eventually, but plastic things never truly go away. Once they’ve outlived their use they get tossed directly into the trash. My husband and I decided to keep eco-friendly in mind when making our purchases this year.

As I put together my shopping plan this year, here are the questions I am asking myself:

  1. WHAT DO MY KIDS PLAY WITH? My kids really enjoy special characters like the Octonauts, Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony. Instead of buying them the plastic characters and accessories (which we already have a ton of), I am keeping an eye out for plushy toys, puzzles and books and clothing sets with those characters. These are all more eco-friendly and still fun.
  2. WHAT DO WE DO FOR FUN? My kids love going to places like Fun-e-farm, Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum and eating at their favorite restaurants. Those places ALL offer gift certificates. Buying them tickets, or gift certificates for an experience to enjoy together means no toys cluttering up my house.
  3. WHAT DO MY KIDS NEED? Do they have enough warm shirts? Enough pants? Do they need shoes, or sneakers? Yes, it is the cliche mom thing to slide packages of wrapped socks under the tree in stealth like fashion. But why mess with tradition? And again, no tiny pieces to step on here!
  4. WHAT ARE MY KIDS LACKING? In our house it can be difficult to get enough time one on one with each kid. With busy work schedules, school routines and all the “adulting” we do as parents we often fall short on spending time together with just a parent and one child. I’m thinking those gift certificates will pair nicely with a calendar filled with special date days.
  5. HOW ARE MY KIDS SPENDING THEIR TIME? Right now we aren’t participating in any extra curricular activities. But my girls do like to take swim lessons during the winter to learn water safety skills as well as get some good exercise. Swim lessons or a membership to a Karate school or gymnastics school take up zero space in the home!

This year we plan to go with the less is more concept with a smaller quantity of better quality gifts. There may be a few toys in there to enjoy along side of the prepaid experiences we are putting under the tree. But with enough thoughtful planning we won’t find any plastic, cookie cutter toys among the gifts.

Stay tuned for my post next week where I share our actual gift giving list!

Do you plan your gift giving, or just wing it?

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

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I really love making candied apples in the fall. But that hard shell coating can be difficult for little ones to bite through. Chocolate, or caramel dipped apples can be so much easier for little ones to eat. Except that my kids never finish an entire apple by themselves. I usually cut it into slices so they can enjoy a portioned sized amount of sweets. It never occurred to me to slice the apples before dipping!

Saturday’s weather was all day dreary. All our fun activities for the day were cancelled so that left us home. We baked and cleaned because what else do you do for long stretches of time with no plans? Just as we were finishing up chores and the kids were begging for something fun to do I remembered I have everything we need to make chocolate dipped apple pops. My kids were in heaven!

Here is what you need:

3 Large apples- any variety

Wooden craft sticks, or skewers- without stain or finish

Chocolate chips

Decorative candies or sprinkles

Begin by washing and drying your apples. Next, slice apples on each side of the core so you have circles. Then you can cut the remaining sides into wedges and secure with a skewer before you dip. (You can remove the skewer before serving the dipped wedges to kids). You can use a small, sharp knife to make a slit in the edge of the apple just deep enough to add your wooden Popsicle stick.

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Next, melt your favorite chocolate chips in the microwave, or by using the double boiler method. Bring a small amount of water to a boil in a pot, and place chips in the bowl. Set the the bowl on top of the boiling water and continue stirring until melted. An important thing to remember is you do not need a lot of water, it shouldn’t even touch the bowl. And use a bowl that fits just a bit bigger than the opening of the pot.

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Then line a baking tray, or cutting board with wax paper. Insert the Popsicle stick or wooden dowel into each apple.

Once the chocolate is fully melted you can dip your apples into the chocolate. You can use a spoon or spatula to help coat the apples evenly. Place the dipped apples onto the wax paper and let your kids have fun decorating! You can go as simple, or as fancy as you’d like. We used what we have on hand- some M&Ms and Halloween themed sprinkles. You could also use crumbled cookies, crushed pretzels, a drizzle of caramel. Or you can get really fancy and use edible candy eyes found in the candy section of most craft stores.

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Pop these into the freezer for about 10 minutes or a little longer. Once the chocolate is solid you are ready to eat! We had so much fun making them on our rainy day, but this could really make a fun Halloween activity, or after school treat.

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What toppings would add to these apple pops?

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

 

This weeks craft is short and sweet and it is inspired by my friend Anne. We were outside at a Halloween party this weekend when I mentioned I was in need of something fun for us to do this week after school. I wanted something different and artsy all at once. Her suggestion for paper lanterns had me intrigued!

Anne’s suggestion was to use crayon shavings because it has a spectacular effect when melted between sheets of wax paper. However, we opted for cutting tissue paper instead. My girls need practice with their scissor skills so cutting squares and different shapes was perfect!

Here is what you will need:

Wax paper

Scissors

Craft Sticks (we used a medium size)

Glue and tape

Colorful tissue paper

I am just awful at measuring when crafting. I often simply eyeball everything, or I find a way to measure without having to get all “mathy.” I rolled out enough wax paper to equal the length of four craft sticks. Then, I folded the paper in half lengthwise to make it just as tall as one craft stick.

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Next we cut out our shapes.

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Layer the pieces of tissue paper between the folded wax paper. Place between a folded towel, or on an ironing board with a pillow case over top. You don’t want the wax paper to melt to the iron, so it’s important to use a thin cover.

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Use Elmer’s glue, or craft glue to make individual frames on the wax paper. This will create a unique block of print for each window of the lantern.

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Allow the glue to dry thoroughly before you fold in to form a square. Use clear tape to tape the edges together. Since this is made from paper and wood, which can be flammable, use an electric candle to light up from the inside of the lantern.

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This project was slow paced and really easy to do. It is more steps than I usually put into a project, but my almost six year olds tolerated it well and they loved the final results! Pretty spectacular for using just wax paper!

I could just imagine this with leaves pressed between the paper. What other things do you think would work?

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

 

 

Tucked away in the corner of Beacon, an unusual and stimulating gem quietly beckons visitors. The Dia: Beacon is a local museum that pushes the art envelope. Check any preconceived notions you hold about “art” at the door, because the Dia will take you on a wild ride. Installations at the Dia include large-scale steel sculptures, yarn hung in crude shapes, piles of glass, fluorescent lights arranged as monuments, and a spider bigger than your car, but really that only scrapes the surface. Dia means “passing through” in Greek, and the art at the museum urges you to experience it fully, moving through the pieces and taking them in both singularly and collectively. The work at the Dia is much more than a painting here and there, but rather works of art that span multiple rooms and give meaning to the concept “larger than life.” Equally stunning is the Dia building itself, which is a repurposed Nabisco printing factory from the early 1900s. A lush urban garden surrounds the building, but the magic truly begins inside. Mile-high ceilings loaded with the original skylights, exposed brick, and airy, natural light is the perfect backdrop for the thought-provoking, sometimes shocking pieces housed inside. The Dia doesn’t allow pictures, so you’ll have to see for yourself. They offer frequent Community Free days for Hudson Valley residents; the next one is coming up on October 19th. Do not miss your opportunity to spend the afternoon exposing your family a once-in-a-lifetime art experience, and then discuss your favorite pieces over a picnic at the nearby Hudson River front. I promise, you won’t regret it.

Two of the best things about living in the Hudson Valley are its proximity to the hustle and bustle of New York City, and its proximity to so many breath-taking natural wonders.  Bash Bish Falls is without a doubt one of those spots.  Bash Bish Falls is a 200 foot waterfall whose beauty is surrounded by gigantic rocks, pools of water, greenery, and a gorge that dates back to the last Ice Age.  Every July, we take the scenic route through Millbrook and toward Copake, NY, where the state borders Mt. Washington, Massachusetts.  Parking is simple (not always the case in nature) and as you exit your car you’ll hear the faint rush of water.  You’ll find yourself just a few steps from the falls runoff, and at the beginning of a 3/4 mile hike.  The hike is short, albeit uphill, with a dirt path that includes a good deal of small rocks and tree roots.  What’s unique about this hike is that you’ll travel alongside the bottom of the falls, and won’t be able to resist the siren pull of the water.  Although “no swimming” is posted along the hike, both the young and old stop to frolic in the stream.

The beautiful stream

The beautiful stream

In fact, we always picnic on one special rock, which faithfully waits for us year after year.

Our lunch rock

Our lunch rock

About two-thirds of the way up the hill, you’ll find a spot marked by a quaint wooden sign which informs you that you’re about to walk yourself right into Massachussets.  Each time, we can’t resist taking a photo to mark this accomplishment.

Half New York, half Massachusetts.  How many waterfall hikes can claim that?

Half New York, half Massachusetts. How many waterfall hikes can claim that?

When you reach the top of the hike, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of the waterfall and gorge.  After descending a long rock staircase,  you’ll know why you’ve come.

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The very bottom of the Falls has a deep, cool, clear pool, into which daredevils and families alike take the plunge.  In front of the pool, humongous rock after rock begs to be climbed.  On any given day, these rocks delight young couples lounging in the shade, kids hopping from rock to rock, and dogs drinking from the water.  No matter how long we spend climbing and relaxing in the water, I’m always sad when it’s time to pack up and take the 3/4 mile walk back to our car.  After a peaceful, refreshing, exciting afternoon, I leave looking forward to next July, when we can return once again to the Falls.

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